How to spend Idaho's $1.6 billion stimulus funds in 1,775 steps

BOISE, Idaho -- Talk about timing. Allied Waste had already decided to transform its fleet of garbage trucks from biodiesel to compressed natural gas when federal stimulus funds became available.

"How much more shovel-ready can you get?" said Rachele Klein, manager of business development for Allied in the Treasure Valley.

With $5.5 million from the stimulus, the company is buying 28 trucks with a subsidy of about $25,000 per rig; will open public CNG fueling stations in Boise and Nampa this fall; and soon will unveil a "Shift to CNG" PR campaign aimed at converting other commercial fleets and individual motorists to CNG.

"It's a huge success in terms of promoting alternative fuels and creating the infrastructure to make CNG accessible to the public," said Beth Baird, coordinator for the Treasure Valley Clean Cities Coalition, which partnered with Allied on the grant.

Allied merged with Republic Services in December 2008, creating the nation's second-largest garbage company. In 2008, Allied crafted a green strategy to land a 10-year contract for Boise's residential solid waste. General Manager Dave Fisher asked his maintenance manager, Billy Cecil, about CNG. Cecil, who'd worked on alternative-fuel trucks for a competitor in California, hailed the technology, which can cut emissions that cause ozone pollution by up to 89 percent.

"Basically, there's nothing coming out of the pipe except water," Cecil said.

Allied in Boise bought eight of the $300,000 CNG trucks without stimulus money. But absent federal dollars, CNG trucks wouldn't be in Canyon County until the Boise fleet was fully converted. Federal dollars also paid for training Allied mechanics and can pay for training at auto dealerships interested in selling vehicles now available only by special order.

The stimulus cash has also spread through the economy, as the $787 billion program intended when it passed Congress and was signed by the president in February 2009.

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